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Jake Mahaffy wins the Orizzonti Award

Jake Mahaffy wins the Orizzonti Award for Best Film at Venice Film Festival

The University of Auckland’s Dr Jake Mahaffy’s film Free in Deed has won the Orizzonti Award for Best Film at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival.

Twelve years in the making, the film was shot in February 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee with actors David Harewood (of Showtime’s Homeland) and Edwina Findley (of HBO’s The Wire).

The film is set in the distinctive world of storefront churches and based on actual events.

Free in Deed depicts one man’s attempts to perform a miracle. When a single mother brings her young boy to church for healing, the lonely Pentecostal minister is forced to confront the seemingly incurable illness of the child, and his own demons as well.

Jake, a senior lecturer in Media, Film and Television at the University, says the win is a huge honour for him and his crew.

"We've been working on this film for over 10 years. Making a movie like this we never know who, if anyone, is going to see it. And that's okay. We are satisfied with the creative process. But it can feel a bit lonely at times,” he says.

“An event like Venice and acknowledgement from people we respect and admire is especially meaningful."

Free in Deed screened in the Orizzonti Section of the festival. Orizzonti is a competitive section for films representing the ‘latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema’. Eighteen international films are screening in this section.

Alongside its premiere at the festival, Free in Deed was chosen to screen online through Festival Scope in partnership with the Festival from 11 to 16 September.

The Orizzonti international competition contained 34 films this year. The Orizzonti jury of five was chaired by Jonathan Demme, an American filmmaker, producer and screenwriter known for his films The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia.

Jake’s previous work includes the feature Wellness, which won the 2008 SXSW Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, and many short films such as AD 1363 (Sundance, 2015) and Miracle Boy, which had its international premiere at the 69th Venice Film Festival in 2012. Some of his work can be seen at www.burnbarrelfilms.com

ENDS

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